Dr. Hiram Mok says very little research has been conducted on Asian males and mental health
CBC News Posted: Apr 27, 2016 6:30 AM PTLast Updated: Apr 27, 2016 6:30 AM PT
A UBC researcher is concerned cultural pressures around mental health issues are preventing depressed Asian men from getting the help they need.
Dr. Hiram Mok, a clinical professor at UBC’s department of psychiatry, is making those issues the subject of a new study. He says men in general are typically underdiagnosed with depression, but cultural pressures might create an additional barrier for Asian men.
“There are cultural factors, language barriers, family structure,” Mok told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.
“There are many levels of stigma and also traditional beliefs about mental health that will prevent certain Asian groups, Asian men, from seeking help for their mental health problems.”
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Mok says 43 per cent of Vancouver’s population has Asian heritage, and up to 50 per cent of them don’t speak English at home.
Within Asian communities, he says, depressed people are less likely to use anti-depressants. He even has Asian male patients who don’t believe psychotherapy — what Mok provides to them — is effective.
“They do not believe in shaming the family,” he said. “They don’t believe in talking about their problems — ‘Why would talking about my problems help me better understand myself?'”
Mok says there has been very little research done on Asian men with depression, and he wants to find out if conforming to stereotypically masculine norms — not talking about problems, resorting to anger, becoming withdrawn, for example — as well as cultural and language factors contribute to more depression in Asian men.
Mok hopes to use the findings from his study to better inform clinicians treating Asian male patients for mental health problems.
With files from CBC Radio One’s On The Coast
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Researchers looking at Asian men, culture and mental health in study